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May 10, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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How to win friends and manipulate people

It never ceases to amaze me how people really have no idea about how they come off. Even worse, I still fall for the ol’ male version of battered eyelashes and end up believing everything someone says, because they’re new to me and I don’t understand their body language yet. Hopefully this will help you remain smarter than this mama.

Positive/negative body language is fun to manipulate. If you cross your legs or arms, you’ll come off as negative or hard to approach—this is the same as if you are sitting directly across from someone, I assume, because the eye doesn’t quite know what it’s supposed to be focusing on. A good way to avoid this for many people is to check out how you’re holding your hands. If your thumb is consistently touching your forefinger, you’re probably feeling, and coming off, as pretty shy, so if you want to appear more positive and keep going back to a negative stance, hold a pen. Another interesting point to be made here is that if you hide your hands, you’ll be hard to read and may come off as aggressive, especially if you have your hands in your pockets but your thumb sticking out.

When trying to get someone to like you, or at least not feel threatened, keep your body diagonal from them, or face the same way as them. Keep your limbs away from your chest literally as you would expect someone to when they’re showing they’re not interested in a fight. I always talk with my palms facing up and gesturing outward, as if I’m shrugging without my shoulders. This implies that I’m not particularly passionate about whatever I’m saying, and so people are less likely to take offense when I contradict them. Also try to keep at their level, so make sure you’re both sitting/standing/lying down, and never stoop over someone. It’s actually better to puff out your chest than stand over someone—the former shows you’re confident in yourself, the latter shows you feel confident in your strength over the other person.

Absolutely, most utterly importantly, is to speak positively regardless of your beliefs about the idea. If a flatmate suggests that you demolish the house, and you can’t find any good in the idea, ask them why they want to do it (in good humour—with the tone as if there’s a 50 per cent chance they’re making a joke). Always explore reasons and ideas with people, to see their side—why did they say it? Remember we all, deep down, want to be loved and understood as equals, so keep this in mind in your everyday life and you’ll be ahead of the social curve, with more room to move.

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